2646 Decision Ordering Reexamination [R-7]
35 U.S.C. 313 Inter partes reexamination order by Director
If, in a determination made under section 312(a), the Director finds that a substantial new question of patentability affecting a claim of a patent is raised, the determination shall include an order for inter partes reexamination of the patent for resolution of the question. The order may be accompanied by the initial action of the Patent and Trademark Office on the merits of the inter partes reexamination conducted in accordance with section 314.
37 C.F.R. 1.931 Order for inter partes reexamination
- (a) If a substantial new question of patentability is found, the determination will include an order for inter partes reexamination of the patent for resolution of the question.
- (b) If the order for inter partes reexamination resulted from a petition pursuant to § 1.927, the inter partes reexamination will ordinarily be conducted by an examiner other than the examiner responsible for the initial determination under § 1.923.
If a request for reexamination is granted, the examiner’s decision granting the request will conclude that a substantial new question of patentability has been raised by (A) identifying all claims and issues, (B) identifying the patents and/or printed publications relied upon, and (C) providing a brief statement of the rationale supporting each new question.
In the examiner’s decision, the examiner must identify at least one substantial new question of patentability and explain how the prior art patents and/or printed publications raise that question. In a simple case, this may entail adoption of the reasons provided by the third party requester. The references relied on by the examiner should be cited on a PTO-892 form, unless already listed on a form PTO/SB/08A or 08B, or PTO/SB/42 (or on a form having a format equivalent to one of these forms) submitted by the third party requester. A copy of the reference should be supplied only where it has not been previously supplied to the patent owner and third party requester.
As to each substantial new question of patentability identified in the decision, the decision should point out:
- (A) The prior art patents and printed publications which add some new teaching as to at least one claim;
- (B) What that new teaching is;
- (C) The claims that the new teaching is directed to;
- (D) That the new teaching was not previously considered nor addressed in the prior examination of the patent or a final holding of invalidity by the Federal Courts;
- (E) That the new teaching is such that a reasonable examiner would consider the new teaching to be important in deciding to allow the claim being considered; and
- (F) Where the question is raised, or where it is not clear that a patent or printed publication pre-dates the patent claims, a discussion should be provided as to why the patent or printed publication is deemed to be available against the patent claims.
If arguments are raised by the third party requester as to grounds not based on patents or printed publications, such as those based on public use or on sale under 35 U.S.C. 102(b), or abandonment under 35 U.S.C. 102(c), the examiner should note that such grounds are improper for reexamination and are not considered or commented upon. See 37 CFR 1.906(c).
In the decision on the request, the examiner will not decide, and no statement should be made as to, whether the claims are rejected over the patents and printed publications. The examiner does not decide on the question of patentability of the claims in the decision on the request. The examiner only decides whether there is a substantial new question of patentability to grant the request to order reexamination.
The decision granting the request is made using form PTOL-2063 as a cover sheet. See MPEP § 2647.01 for an example of a decision granting a request for inter partes reexamination.
Form Paragraph 26.01 should be used at the beginning of each decision letter granting reexamination.
¶ 26.01 Reasonable likelihood established
The present request for inter partes reexamination establishes a reasonable likelihood that requester will prevail with respect to claim  of United States Patent Number .
Extensions of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) will not be permitted in inter partes reexamination proceedings because the provisions of 37 CFR 1.136 apply only to "an applicant" and not to the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding. Additionally, 35 U.S.C. 314(c) requires that inter partes reexamination proceedings "will be conducted with special dispatch" (37 CFR 1.937). Patent owner extensions of time in inter partes reexamination proceedings are provided for in 37 CFR 1.956. Extensions of time are not available for third party requester comments, because a comment period of 30 days from service of patent owner’s response is set by statute. 35 U.S.C. 314(b)(2).
¶ 26.73 Correspondence and Inquiry as to Office Actions
All correspondence relating to this inter partes reexamination proceeding should be directed:
By Mail to: Mail Stop Inter Partes Reexam
Attn: Central Reexamination Unit
Commissioner for Patents
United States Patent & Trademark Office
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
By FAX to: (571) 273-9900
Central Reexamination Unit
By hand: Customer Service Window
401 Dulany Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Any inquiry concerning this communication or earlier communications from the examiner, or as to the status of this proceeding, should be directed to the Central Reexamination Unit at telephone number (571) 272-7705.
I. PANEL REVIEW CONFERENCE
After an examiner has determined that the reexamination proceeding is ready for granting reexamination, the examiner will formulate a draft preliminary order granting reexamination. The examiner will then inform his/her ** > Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE) < of his/her intent to issue an order granting reexamination. The * > CRU SPE < will convene a panel review conference, and the conference members will review the matter. See MPEP § 2671.03 for the make-up of the panel. If the conference confirms the examiner’s preliminary decision to grant reexamination, the proposed order granting reexamination shall be issued and signed by the examiner, with the two other conferees initialing the action (as “conferee”) to indicate their presence in the conference. If the conference does not confirm the examiner’s preliminary decision, the examiner will reevaluate and issue an appropriate communication.
II. PETITION TO VACATE THE ORDER GRANTING REEXAMINATION
A substantive determination by the Director of the Office to institute reexamination pursuant to a finding that the prior art patents or printed publications raise a substantial new question of patentability is not subject to review by petition or otherwise. See Joy Mfg. Co. v. Nat’l Mine Serv. Co., Inc., 810 F.2d 1127, 1 USPQ2d 1627 (Fed. Cir. 1987); Heinl v. Godici, 143 F.Supp. 2d 593 (E.D. Va. 2001). Note further the decision of Patlex Corp. v. Quigg, 680 F.Supp. 33, 6 USPQ2d 1296, 1298 (D.D.C. 1988) (the legislative scheme leaves the Director’s 35 U.S.C. 303 determination entirely to his discretion and not subject to judicial review). These decisions were rendered for ex parte reexamination; however, the holdings of these decisions apply equally in inter partes reexamination proceedings, since the language of 35 U.S.C. 302(c) (i.e., the ex parte reexamination statute) is also found in 35 U.S.C. 312(c) (i.e., the inter partes reexamination statute). Because the substantive determination is not subject to review by petition or otherwise, neither the patent owner nor the third party requester has a right to petition, or request reconsideration of, a finding that the prior art patents or printed publications raise a substantial new question. There is no right to petition such a finding even if the finding of a substantial new question is based on reasons other than those urged by the third party requester (or based on less than all the grounds urged by the third party requester). Where the examiner determines that a date of a reference is early enough such that the reference constitutes prior art, that determination is not petitionable (with respect to vacating the examiner’s finding of a substantial new question). Where the examiner determines that a reference is a printed publication (i.e., that the criteria for publication has been satisfied), that determination is also not petitionable. These matters cannot be questioned with respect to vacating the order granting reexamination until a final agency decision on the reexamination proceeding has issued. Rather, these matters can be argued by the patent owner and appealed during the examination phase of the reexamination proceeding.
A petition under 37 CFR 1.181 may, however, be filed to vacate an ultra vires reexamination order, such as where the order for reexamination is not based on prior art patents and printed publications. In cases where no discretion to grant a request for reexamination exists, a petition to vacate the decision to grant, or a request for reconsideration, will be entertained. "Appropriate circumstances" under 37 CFR 1.181(a)(3) exist to vacate the order granting reexamination where, for example:
- (A) the reexamination order is not based on prior art patents or printed publications;
- (B) reexamination is prohibited under 37 CFR 1.907;
- (C) all claims of the patent were held to be invalid by a final decision of a Federal Court after all appeals;
- (D) reexamination was ordered for the wrong patent;
- (E) reexamination was ordered based on a duplicate copy of the request; or
- (F) the reexamination order was
based wholly on the same question of
patentability raised by the prior art previously
considered in an earlier concluded examination of the patent by
the Office (e.g., the application which matured into the patent, a prior
reexamination, an interference proceeding).
As to (F), the decision of In re Recreative Technologies Corp., 83 F.3d 1394, 38 USPQ2d 1776 (Fed. Cir. 1996) is to be noted. See the discussion in MPEP § 2642, subsection II.A. as to the criteria for vacating a reexamination order in view of the decision.
When a petition under 37 CFR 1.181 is filed to vacate a reexamination order, the third party requester may file a single submission in opposition to the petition. Because reexamination proceedings are conducted with special dispatch, 35 U.S.C. 314(c), any such opposition by the third party requester must be filed within two weeks of the date upon which a copy of the original 37 CFR 1.181 petition was served on the third party requester to ensure consideration. It is advisable that, upon receipt and review of the served copy of such a 37 CFR 1.181 petition which the third party requester intends to oppose, the requester should immediately place a courtesy telephone call to the ** > CRU SPE < to notify the Office that an opposition to the 37 CFR 1.181 petition will be filed. Whenever possible, filing of the opposition should be submitted by facsimile transmission.
The filing of a 37 CFR 1.181 petition to vacate an ultra vires reexamination order is limited to a single submission, even if an opposition thereto is filed by a third party requester.
III. PRIOR ART SUBMITTED AFTER THE ORDER
Any prior art citations under 37 CFR 1.501 submitted after the date of the decision ordering inter partes reexamination should be retained in a separate file by the ** > Technology Center (TC) (usually the TC Quality Assurance Specialist (QAS)) < and stored until the reexamination proceeding is concluded, at which time the prior art citation is then entered of record in the patent file. See MPEP § 2206. Note that 37 CFR 1.902 governs submissions of prior art that can be made by patent owners and third party requesters after reexamination has been ordered.